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Plan it, manage it, nail it

Barry Ashmore talks about how a properly planned and managed marketing process can bring sales success for flooring contractors.

I’VE written about the various aspects of sales and marketing for flooring contractors in several issues of this publication.

From how big-brand thinking can transfer to a level that you can relate to and use in your own marketing, to looking at the benefits of individual disciplines such as email marketing, social media, website content and measurement, and how they can be made to work for you.

It’s some time since I’ve written a marketing overview, so here’s a reminder of why and how you should market your business properly and not put it off until another day. It also includes a few of the various marketing staples that are cost-effective and easy to manage.
One of the most important things to remember is marketing is a process. It’s not a quick fix when you suddenly decide you need to find new customers, but an ongoing progression that helps you to:

  1. Make new customers aware of your products and services
  2. Ensure existing customers are aware of the latest developments in your business
  3. Keep in touch with them until they have the confidence that you can meet their need
  4. Secure an order

Here are some of the fundamentals of the marketing process, many of which I will have covered in depth in previous columns.

What is marketing?
Distinctly separate from sales, marketing covers tactics and strategies companies and organisations employ to place their products or services in front of potential customers and motivate them to specify their services or purchase their products.

The formula widely known as the ‘4Ps’ is something that conventional marketing centres on and is a very helpful tool to enable you to understand how marketing works.

Product, place, price, promotion
As a flooring contractor, the 4Ps* help you focus on your offering and where it sits within the marketplace you sell in.

Product: This is what you sell and relates to the physical goods or services that you provide, which, for example, might include the structure, application or the aesthetics of different flooring products and perhaps, the various methods of installing it. You must also convey the benefits a client or end-user is looking for.

Place: This is where you consider what a customer must do to specify or buy your product. It is where the sale is made, which may not be a physical place at all – it may be on the phone or on the internet, for example. But, if your website is poor, or you don’t answer the phone or reply to emails, you’re not going to be doing business at all. So getting the ‘place’ right is important.

Price: Your prices must be set at a level that gives you the desired margin to make a profit, and at a level the market will stand. You and your sales team must agree what this should be for your business, and importantly, what a customer is willing to pay. Does seasonality feature in your product range, outdoor sports floors, for example?

Promotion: Running a business without promoting it… what’s the point? You can be the best flooring company in the country but if nobody knows who you are business could be a little slow! So, promotion is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are literally dozens of different ways to promote your business, and lots of them can be done very economically indeed.

There is also a fifth P – the Process. Without a process and a structure to your marketing activity, you will struggle to get results. Which is why it’s imperative you fully understand the following:

  • Who you want to reach?
  • What you want them to do?
  • How will you encourage them to take that action?
  • How will you measure marketing’s impact on influencing that action?
  • *The 4Ps were explored in detail in the July 2021 issue of CFJ.

The impact of strategy on marketing success
Success starts with sound strategy, and getting it right is essential.

If you think of marketing as going for a drive in your car, there are a couple of things you could do. You could climb in and take off without any sense of where you are heading, which will simply burn fuel, waste time and get you nowhere.

Alternatively, when you sit behind the wheel with a clear understanding of your destination you will find the journey more beneficial, profitable, and successful.

One important marketing tactic that can help make your ‘journey’ easier and more cost effective is:

The marketing funnel
All your contacts with your sales audience, conversations, leads, research and other information accumulated from your marketing, are channelled into your marketing funnel and filtered down onto an imaginary conveyor belt.

At one end of the conveyor is the point a prospect first finds out about your business. At the other end is the point of purchase. Your task is to communicate with your contacts and help them along the ‘conveyor’ by sending them regular information, news, product features and all the benefits that will help them to eventually trust you, take action, make contact, and buy.

This may take some time and many marketing emails, letters or calls, because it is well known that a marketer must make contact with someone at least seven times before their presence is even noticed.

Once you have your strategy in place, here are a few cost-effective and measurable marketing options that you may wish to use:

Content marketing
Content marketing has evolved to represent and reflect the fact that people need information about a business. They want to be informed and helped more than they want to be interrupted or sold to.

Where content marketing can be used to greatest effect is to help you build an audience, create sector authority and to help drive sales.

‘Content’ will mean different things to different people, but primarily it is about posting regular updates on your website news pages, or blog, if you have one. It can also include social media, email marketing, videos, or even printed matter, like brochures magazines, or magazine advertising. You need to look no further than this publication to see how manufacturers – your suppliers – are using content to influence flooring contractors.

Email marketing
If it’s conversions you need then it is hard to beat the return-on-investment email marketing brings. With so many user-friendly automated email systems around, it is quick and easy to send bulk emails and measure reader engagement in terms of open rates and click-throughs to other content, like your website, for instance.

Google Ads/Pay-Per-Click
You’ll no doubt have seen those ads which appear at the top of search results. These are pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

PPC advertising works well for marketers as it offers a way to sell products directly to people who are searching for them. It is incredibly cost-effective as you can see exactly how much you are spending daily, the number of impressions (views) your ads receive and the number of clicks to your website or landing page they generate. You can also see what share of search visibility your ads receive when compared to those of your competitors.

Social media marketing
Social media is a very effective way to build brand awareness, develop customer relationships and place your content and products in front of new people. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all great ways to reach new contacts and Instagram offers a superb opportunity to post the best photographs of your work.

Online video marketing
Hundreds of hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute which makes it the world’s second largest search engine after Google, offering you a large potential audience for your products. Video is certainly the way forward for social media, particularly if you can create short films that encapsulate your product features and benefits well and carry a message that is easily understood, with or without sound.

Public relations
Even in a time that is dominated by new and creative marketing channels and tactics, relationship-building remains an essential part of the marketing mix. PR can be used to share and promote information, application stories, or new developments in your business, that all combine to build your brand in a positive way.

Your website
Ensure that you keep it up to date as it’s almost certainly the first place a prospect will go for information about your business. If it’s been correctly optimised for search, then you will benefit from both organic (unpaid) search visibility, on top of the visits you receive from paid advertising.

To summarise, marketing is all about:

  • Knowing your audience, who you are trying to reach, and why
  • Understanding how to reach them
  • And which are the best marketing activities to use to reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time

If you’d like to speak to someone about how to plan, create and implement any aspect of your marketing, please contact us
01773 712116

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